Rent goes up, occupancy goes down

the landlady 1997 talia shire


2.5 Stars  1997/15/92m

“Evil doesn’t knock. It has a key.”

Director: Rob Malenfant / Writers: Brent Thompson, George Saunders, Frank Rehwaldt / Cast: Talia Shire, Jack Coleman, Bruce Weitz, Dee Freeman, Susie Singer, Melissa Behr, Bette Ford, Courtney Gains, Nathan Legrand, Clement Von Franckenstein.

Body Count: 8

Laughter Lines: “You can’t even be quiet when you’re dead.”

“Adrian!” Mrs Rocky plays the downtrodden puritan housewife who gets away with poisoning her unfaithful husband, and then moves to the Los Angeles apartment complex she inherited from her late aunt. Here, she takes an obsessive Stepfather-like fancy to her neighbour Patrick (Coleman, later that annoying glasses guy in Heroes), and goes about getting rid of the tenants and acquaintances who prevent their romance from blooming.

Highlights include a scene where she forces Patrick’s girlfriend to answer a questionnaire about him at gunpoint, and her frequent amiable chats with herself.

The remaining tenants begin to suspect that something ain’t quite right with their new landlady and the whole thing collapses into a Misery drawn tied-to-a-bed finale before an unlikely heroine emerges to save Patrick’s bacon.

As with many other female-infatuation slashers, our wackadoo here seems to direct most of her fury at other women, whom she brands whores (technically only true in one case) while the male vics have quick and convenient demises.

Still, Shire’s off-her-rocker performance mostly compensates for any plot shortcomings.

Blurb-of-interest: Courtney Gains played Malachai in the original Children of the Corn.

“Scream 4″

final stab 2001FINAL STAB

3 Stars  2001/18/78m

“Last one alive wins.”

A.k.a. Final ScreamScream 4

Director/Writer: David DeCoteau / Writer: Matthew Jason Walsh / Cast: Melissa Renee Martin, Jamie Gannon, Erinn Carter, Chris Boyd, Bradley Stryker, Laila Reece Landon, Forrest Cochran, Michael Lutz, Donnie Eichar, Scott Hudson, Brannon Gould, Britt Soderberg.

Body Count: 10

Laughter Lines: “Why don’t you go find a phone, some help at a nearby farmhouse, or a fucking tampon?”

I wrung some enjoyment from this cheapo cash-in that was marketed as Scream 4 in some territories.

Trash director DeCoteau takes on the post-modern slasher trend that has more in common with April Fool’s Day than it does Wes Craven’s films, putting rich college kids in an abandoned mansion with a bloody history.

Kristen (Carter), the self-confessed “Queen bitch of deception” plans on driving her estranged-sister’s unhinged boyfriend off the deep end by staging a murder mystery evening. Expectedly, her plans are hijacked by a real killer – identically dressed, of course – starts to do away with the players one by one.

The usual cliches come thick n’ fast, most repeated the victims assuming the killer is the actor employed by Kristen (who was a Skeet Ulrich-a-like!) and the olde thinking bodies are their buds playing dead.

DeCoteau inserts his signature homoerotic sequences, with one guy parading about in a pair of very small, very tight shorts, and a secret fling between two of the ‘straight’ male characters. Nearly all victims are cute college guys, while the largely empowered female roles are occupied by Kristen, her naive sis Angela, a the shallow, dopey other girl/victim.

Mucho film title dropping and a motive that amounts to “I like horror movies” are where the Scream comparisons start and end, with a few explanations as to the ‘rules’, but ultimately it’s a cheaper, less amusing Cut, but a fun one if you catch it in the right mood.

Blurbs-of-interest: Brannon Gould was in Maniacal; DeCoteau’s other slasher credit is Dreamaniac.

Make America Gory Again

uncle sam 1996


3 Stars  1996/18/86m

“He wants you… DEAD!”

Director: Larry Cohen / Writer: William Lustig / Cast: Christopher Ogden, Isaac Hayes, Anne Tremko, Leslie Neale, David ‘Shark’ Fralick, Matthew Flint, Tim Grimm, Robert Forster, Bo Hopkins, Timothy Bottoms, P.J. Soles, Thom McFadden, Zachary McLemore

Body Count: 13

This pre-Scream-rules cheap n’ cheerful holiday hacker from the creators of the Maniac Cop trilogy is about as subtle as politics is honest, but is nevertheless kinda endearing in it’s own cheesy way.

We begin with the obligatory flashback to an unspecified moment in time in Kuwait where two soldiers discover the bodies of a helicopter crew shot down in ‘friendly fire’. The remains of one of the men is shipped back to his hometown of Twin Rivers three years later (where it’s been all this time I don’t know) where his widow is living with his sister, whose son Jody is obsessed by his Uncle Sam and with joining the troops.

For no particular reason, Sam’s corpse – in the living room of the house! – is reanimated, dons an Uncle Sam costume put aside for the July 4th celebrations the next day, and goes about destroying those who aren’t patriotic enough  (“people who don’t respect the American way of life should have the butts kicked”) including swastika-spraying teens, crooked congressmen, pacifists and dope-smokers.

The body count goes ballistic and things get pretty gory and there’s a psychic blind kid in a wheelchair, which is always good! But the most compelling thing is that cast rota, stocked with big names for such a little known Troma-esque movie. Isaac Hayes is fitfully amusing as a surviving soldier and P.J. Soles has a short but sweet role as a neurotic mother.

The biggest mystery is why no one really seems to care when people are killed. Both the widow and her sister’s boyfriends end up as dog meat and neither seem all that bothered! A curious oddity that seems fitting again with the bizarre administrative situation in the US of A at present.

Blurbs-of-interest: P.J. Soles was Lynda in Halloween, but also had the lead role in Innocent Prey and a part in The Tooth Fairy; Robert Forster was also in Maniac Cop 3 and the Psycho remake; David ‘Shark’ Fralick was later in Spiker; Isaac Hayes had a part in Return to Sleepaway Camp; Bo Hopkins was also in A Crack in the Floor and Sweet Sixteen; William Lustig also directed Maniac.

Transferable Skills

switch killer 2005


2 Stars  2005/18/84m

“She’s a cut above the rest.”

A.k.a. Transamerican Killer

Director/Writer: Mack Hail / Writer: Jim Mills / Cast: Cara Jo Basso, Bishop Mann, Monique Chachere, Susan Blonsky, Alixandra Agar, Christina Anderson, Amy Desta, James Tamis.

Body Count: 10

Laughter Lines: “You gonna tell me you don’t wanna take a stab at this body?”

Poor Jamie (Basso) flees LA and her abusive boyfriend for the bright lights of Vegas, wherre she finds word as a pole dancer and falls in love with another woman. Six months later, boyfriend turns up looking for her, but his obsession has spilled over to the point where he’d had a sex change in order to try and win her back!

In the meantime, he/she stabs anybody who stands between them, mostly her topless colleagues and a few witless partygoers, all taking place on New Year’s Eve.

There’s little more going on than back to back setups for each kill in this cheap looking video flick from the director of Mr Ice Cream Man, which was a pretty weird film itself. Insubstantial writing also results in end credits that grind on for sixteen minutes as they recall the highlights of the film and some behind the scenes footage nobody wanted.

Hail has a good knowledge of the genre and he’s able to polish the film enough to make it passably entertaining, but it walks a thin line between exploitation and downright misogyny and transphobia, with overlong sequences of lap dancers in faux-lesbian acts in a sleazy club.

Blurb-of-whatever: Mack Hail had a role in Carnage Road.

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